Summer Externships Lead to Classroom Opportunities

Aug. 25, 2017 ~ Each summer a handful of district teachers participate in "externships," hands-on learning at area businesses where they can pick up first-hand knowledge that will improve their teaching methods.

"These opportunities are made possible through a competitive application process," Career and Technical Education Coordinator Barbra Gonzales said. "This experience pays off in real-life curriculum applications, professional growth points, and summer stipends.

"Teachers must have an interest in finding links between their curriculum and these real-life applications. Not only do they experience the occupation first-hand, they have the opportunity to network with resources for guest speakers, career day presenters, and possible field trip locations."

Stephanie DuPreeStephanie DuPree, Olathe South High School Family and Consumer Science teacher: The Rub Barbecue and The Tasteful Olive

"I picked these two because of my contacts and I knew that they would give me a completely different experience," DuPree said.

Whether she was taking inventory or setting up for a cooking class at The Tasteful Olive, or learning about catering an event for The Rub, DuPree was excited about how her diverse responsibilities could be used in the classroom.

"I plan on building on my rubs and marinades unit, as well as my food enhancement unit," she said. "With each externship, we have to design a lesson plan that we will implement with what we learned. I have come up with a tasting lesson based on the knowledge that I gained from fresh oils and balsamic vinegars."

Robyn EickRobyn Eick, Olathe North High School Family and Consumer Science teacher: HyVee bakery

"My externship opened my eyes to the industry and given me the opportunity to learn skills that I can bring back to teach my students," Eick said. "This externship has allowed me to reflect on what I teach, how I teach, and given me the opportunity to expand my knowledge."

"I can make several connections to the classroom," she said. "The first is professionalism. I can focus on preparing my students to have those '21st century skills' such as speaking with customers, writing down orders, and reading technical directions on a package."

She will also take examples of food industry safety and sanitation procedures back to her classroom, and an improved level of cake-decorating skills.

"My advice to any teacher considering a summer externship: Do it! You won't regret giving up a brief piece of your summer."

Brandon HernandezBrandon Hernandez, Olathe Northwest High School Engineering Academy teacher: Burns & McDonnell

Hernandez used his personal contacts with area engineering firms to find his summer externship at Burns & McDonnell.

"I'd recommend teachers contact people and organizations that have a direct tie to their curriculum," he said. "I could have cold-called numerous engineering firms, but I focused on contacting companies that have a large civil / structural department because of my curriculum."

His externship paired him with civil, structural and chemical engineers, as well as project managers overseeing all aspects of varying projects.

"A few of the structural analysis programs that are used at Burns & McDonnell are available for free (albeit a much less technical version) that I will be able to use with my students," Hernandez said. "The project management skills used consistently and effectively at Burns & McDonnell will play a large role in my class because I teach a projects-based course."

Other teachers participating in the 2017 summer externship program were Olathe Northwest business and computers teacher Jessica Collins, Olathe Northwest Family and Consumer Science teacher Jordan Landis, and Olathe North Family and Consumer Science teacher Amy Nail.